Over six million teenagers can claim around £1,000 at 18

– but many have no idea, says Paul Lewis

Golden pound sterling signs falling on the blue background.

There’s a cash windfall waiting for everyone who turned 18 from 1 September. It’s worth around £1,000 tax-free – a bit less for some; rather more for others. Most of them know nothing about it, but it is waiting to be claimed.

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The money’s in what is called a Child Trust Fund (CTF) account, set up by the last Labour government. Every baby born from 1 September 2002 was given £250 and for some there was another £250 payment at the age of seven.  Children from some low-income families got double those amounts.

The money was paid in a voucher sent to the parent who claimed Child Benefit, to set up an individual Child Trust Fund account for their baby, either in cash or invested in shares. The scheme was scrapped in 2010 by the Coalition Government as part of its austerity measures: no one born after 2 January 2011 has a CTF, but by then more than six million accounts had been set up. Nearly one in three parents did not use the voucher and the Government set up an account for them. Children in care without parents also had accounts set up.

Parents could add money to the fund but only a minority did. Most accounts are just the government grants and any investment growth since – minus the charges of 1.5% a year that providers made. Nevertheless, OneFamily, which holds about a quarter of  CTFs, says that the value of funds for those reaching 18 without any
extra contributions is now around £1,000, double that for the children who got the double payments.

Everyone who reached 18 from 1 September can now get hold of their money from their 18th birthday, via the official Government Gateway site or through the charity Share Foundation. A national insurance number and personal ID will be needed. Claiming is a bit fiddly but it is tax-free cash with, literally, your name on it.

To find out more, search for “child trust fund” on gov.uk, or visit sharefound.org.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4